Today’s working population faces a lot of health issues and one of the most common is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D, popularly called the sunshine vitamin, is absorbed by the body through sunlight exposure. Because of our lifestyle and hectic work life, we spend more time indoors, within the walls of offices, rather than outdoors. This leads to low levels of vitamin D in the body. A study conducted by the University of Alberta researchers in Canada revealed several group of workers are particularly at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and this includes the indoor workers, healthcare workers, and shift workers.
The results from the study suggest that a person’s occupation is one significant factor that likely contributes to the low levels of vitamin D. It is important to consider screening of vitamin D levels on a regular basis in at-risk groups for public health initiatives and future guidelines of clinical practices. Wellness programs in the workplace could educate on how important adequate vitamin D levels are. Such could aid in the prevention of adverse health effects linked to low levels of vitamin D, which include cancer, psychiatric disorders, and metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, all these according to research lead author, Dr. Sebastian Straube.
The body’s production of vitamin D relies on exposure to sunlight. This means that any activity that limits exposure to sunlight tends to reduce the levels of vitamin D in the body. In young medical professionals, who are likely to work long hours, and other indoor workers, sunlight deprivation puts these groups at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, Dr. Straube said.
The research data revealed that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was observed as highest among the shift workers (80%), with the indoor workers (77%) a close second, and then the healthcare students (72%). Among the healthcare workers, vitamin D deficiency of varied rates were observed, and these include medical residents (65%), practicing physicians (46%), nurses (43%), and other healthcare professionals (43%).
The study showed high percentage of vitamin D insufficiency among the indoor workers (91%). This means that their vitamin D levels weren’t necessarily low compared to the levels observed among vitamin D deficient individuals, however the levels are still lower than what is recommended. In comparison, vitamin D deficient outdoor workers comprised 48% while those with vitamin D insufficiency comprised 75%.
To get more vitamin D, indoor workers should spend more time on activities that allow them to spend considerable amount of time under the sun. As vitamin D is also present in some foods, regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin D is also advised. Aside from sunlight and food, there are also vitamin D supplements that indoor workers can take for their daily source of the vitamin. The role of vitamin D goes beyond strengthening the bones and muscles in the body. It is also needed for other important body functions. So it is necessary that indoor workers and individuals with vitamin D deficiency receive adequate vitamin D to achieve optimal health.